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Sunday, 28 August 2011
Danish life: Its the campaign season
My Danish language lessons have started up again and I'm back at the grindstone. The introduction stage is over and now there is no mercy - the teacher speaks only Danish and we're even expected to ask questions in Danish. Needless to say, class is much quieter now.
On Friday morning I decided that to improve my Danish listening I would watch 15 minutes of television every day. Real television, not the Jeremy Kyle show with sub-titles. After all, I'm finding the Elle magazine in Danish much easier to understand than the chit-chat with parents I meet at the play ground. I made this decision at 10.50 on Friday morning, found the remote control and sat down with a steely determination to conquer the unfathomable mumbo-jumbo. The timing would not have been so important if I had not then switched on the television to find all the Danish channels ablaze with the 'breaking news' that the Prime Minister was to make an important announcement at 11.00 am.
Sure enough, 10 minutes later, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, statsminister and leader of the Venstre party, appeared and called a national election on 15 September 2011. Now, I have to confess that I have not been following Danish politics and until that point would not have known the name of the prime minister, that there is a coalition government (between Venstre and the Conservative People's Party) in power or that an election had to be called by 12 November 2011 (being 4 years after the last election).
And so, by happy coincidence, it was a very profitable 15 minutes of TV viewing: I practised my Danish listening and managed to learn about national politics. Its going to be a feverish few weeks of campaigning I expect. By the time I left the flat on Friday afternoon to go and collect my son from school, the faces of the various election candidates were already beaming down from every lamp post, tree trunk and railing.
The economy is at the heart of the election as Denmark has, apparently, fared worse than its Scandinavian neighbours in the global recession. I'm a loooong way from knowing the manifestoes or the party positions on the main issues but one of things that has struck me from all the posters is the number of female candidates. The leader of the opposition party (the Social Democrats) is the very formidable looking Helle Thorning-Schmidt. If she wins, she will be Denmark's first female prime minister.
In the meantime there is another poster campaign vying for attention. Its the start of another school year and so there are many more children cycling in the bike lanes and crossing the major roads. These posters are a reminder to roadusers to look out, literally, for the 'small people' in the traffic.
Let's hope that drivers and cyclists will keep their eyes on the road and not be distracted by the charming smiles of the election hopefuls...